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Published July 28, 2012, 12:00 AM

Coupon Queen: Sale shopping without coupons

I’ve seen this phenomenon many times: New coupon shoppers are gung-ho about getting started and saving money.

By: By Jill Cataldo, INFORUM

I’ve seen this phenomenon many times: New coupon shoppers are gung-ho about getting started and saving money. But a few weeks into their coupon adventure, they start trying to use coupons for every purchase, and I receive emails like these:

“I really need to buy some chicken this week, but I don’t have any meat coupons.”

“What do you do when you need something right now, but you don’t have a coupon?”

“I’m afraid to buy something without a coupon!”

While I always encourage coupon use, the ultimate goal is to buy what you need at the best price possible. Not every shopping trip calls for coupons!

When I shop, my goal is to cut the price of each product I buy in half. Here are a few examples from some recent sales I’ve shopped, most without the use of coupons:

- 6-pound package of pork loin chops

Regular price: $4.99/pound

Sale price: 99 cents/pound

Notes: Even though I had no coupon for fresh meat (they’re hard to come by), pork chops less than a dollar per pound are always a good buy.

- Bottle of sweet and sour sauce

Regular price: $2.29

Sale price: $1

Notes: Even if there were no coupons available for this product, it was still half-off, therefore a great deal. But because there was a $1 coupon in an insert the week of this sale, I took it home for free!

- Package of hot dogs

Regular price: $2.98

Sale price: 97 cents

Notes: This is another example of buying at the right time. I had a 75 cent coupon good for the purchase of two packages of hot dogs. I bought the two packages and paid $1.19 all together, or about 60 cents each.

- Single rolls of paper towels

Regular price: $1.19 each

Sale price: 50 cents each

Notes: Even though there were no coupons for this brand of paper towels, fifty cents per roll is a great price. I bought ten!

- Half-gallon bottles of fruit juice

Regular price: $4.59

Sale price: $1.99

Notes: Again, when this juice went on sale, there were no coupons. But the sale price was less than half the regular price, so it was time to buy. The bonus? My store was running a Buy 10, save $5 instant-savings offer on this juice. If you bought ten bottles for $19.90, you generated $5 in instant savings. That dropped the price to $14.90 for ten, or $1.49 each. $1.49 is a super stock-up price for juice, and again, no coupons were necessary.

If you’re a couponer looking for validation on some of your non-coupon purchases, look no further. I buy plenty of things without coupons, as long as the price is right.

Prices on products in many stores are constantly in rotation, fluctuating from high to low in a regular cycle. As a shopper, I’m always evaluating whether the price of a product falls in the low range. While I love getting products as inexpensively as possible, and I especially enjoy any coupon freebies that come my way, in the end, it’s really about hitting that fifty-percent-or-less price range.

When you think about the big picture, it’s easy to understand how this shopping strategy can save you a lot of money in the long run. With the above examples, I’d have paid $95.99 all together had I purchased the items at full price. But bought at sale price, the products costs just $27.03. Coupons would make that total even lower, of course, but the savings were great even without their help.


Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her website, jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.

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